Dorina Baltag: European integration comes with a wide spectrum of benefits

Moldova’s integration into the European Union will come with a wide spectrum of benefits, and in order for these advantages to be realized by society, more should be invested in education and informing citizens, stated Dorina Baltag, foreign policy researcher, during an IPN debate on Thursday.

Dorina Baltag, who is a researcher at the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance in London, says that it is difficult to predict what the European Council will decide on December 14-15, as there is a risk that the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban will veto the launch of accession negotiations with Ukraine, which may also influence the decision on Moldova.

Dorina Baltag says that the decisions taken “as a package” regarding some states are circumstantial decisions of the European Union and are aimed at regional relations between countries. According to the expert, even if the start of accession negotiations for Ukraine and Moldova will take place at the same time, the negotiations with each individual state will be completely different.

“These package decisions do not represent a regulated framework, but a circumstantial decision. The conditions under which Moldova and Ukraine will enter into negotiations are very different from the conditions under which Croatia or Romania and Bulgaria entered. We live in different times and the European Union is reviewing these conditions. In the case of Ukraine and Moldova, it’s hard to say who is the first and who is the second in this tandem, because we are comparing two absolutely different countries. Ukraine is ravaged by war and continues to implement reforms. Moldova is not devastated by war, but it has other internal vulnerabilities. However, the frozen conflict in the Transnistrian region does not compare to Crimea. The Transnistrian region is more Europeanized, so to say, than other regions in similar situations. We can’t even compare it with Cyprus”, said Dorina Baltag.

According to the researcher, the European Union is now concerned about Hungary’s position on Ukraine.

“What worries the European Union now is Hungary’s position. On December 4, there was a letter from the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, mentioning the issue of the rights of Hungarians in the Transcarpathian region, which should be handled by Ukraine. But in fact, it is a geopolitical game, because we know Viktor Orban’s position on Russia, they are on friendly terms. There should be more talks with Hungary to prevent Viktor Orban from exercising Hungary’s veto now in December. Earlier, Reuters reported that there is already a draft of the European Council’s decision and this first draft gives the green light to the opening of accession negotiations with Moldova and Ukraine. But in the meantime, that letter from Viktor Orban appeared”, said Dorina Baltag.

Regardless of what the European Council decides, the Moldovan government should still focus on implementing the ongoing reforms.

“If it is decided in December or at the next meeting to open negotiations, that should not influence the reform process in the country. Because this has to be an internal policy desire, first of all. From the outside it can be seen that we put too much emphasis on what we want to report to the European Commission, which is alright. But first of all, we must want to live better, to have higher living standards for ourselves, regardless of external factors. European integration comes with a wide spectrum of benefits, regarding the functionality of state institutions, economic benefits. But for this to be understood by the citizens, we must invest in education, in information”, explained Dorina Baltag.

The debate was the 295th installment of the Political Culture series, run by IPN with the support of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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